Saturday, 22 November 2014

Interview with Debbie Manber Kupfer

Today I bring you another interview, this time from busy author, Debbie Manber Kupfer, who stops by to chat about her fantasy writing, books, and puzzles. Enjoy.

Interview with Debbie Manber Kupfer

Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

I was born in London, and lived in Israel, North Carolina, and New York before finally settling in St. Louis, Missouri about 16 years ago. I’ve got a husband, two kids, and a very opinionated kitty, Miri Billie Joe, who is the true ruler of our household. I get through about a gallon of strong hot tea with milk each day and like to reward myself with squares of dark, dark chocolate.

You’re the author of P.A.W.S., a YA fantasy series. Can you tell us a bit about this series?

Certainly! P.A.W.S. is the story of Miri, a young Jewish girl who receives a silver cat charm from her grandmother, Celia, the night before Celia dies. Little does Miri know, but the charm holds the family secret, a secret that saved her grandmother from the Nazis and is about to change Miri’s life in ways she never thought possible.
Miri’s story continues in the second book of the series, Argentum, which recently came out and I’m currently working on the third book. I have a whole world inside my head that’s waiting to come out!

What attracted you to write in both the fantasy genre and the young adult genre?

They are the genres I most enjoy reading. My favorite authors include J.K. Rowling, Terry Pratchett, Cornelia Funke, Cassandra Clare, and Neil Gaiman. I love immersing myself in a story and I love magic – in fantasy anything is possible.

Another project which you’re involved in (as a writer and an editor) is the historic horror anthology, Sins of the Past. Can you tell us about that book?

Sins of the Past was the brainchild of British horror writer, Kelvin Allison. The idea was to take a true event in history and set a tale of the macabre within that timeframe. Sadly Kelvin backed out of the project, but we had too many good stories to let it go, so Chasity Nicole and I took it over.
There are 17 stories which span history from a poison maiden in ancient India to a haunted Vietnam veteran in LA. My story in the collection is Griddlebone, a tale of genetically mutated werecats in Nazi-controlled Europe.

You’re also a puzzle writer. What exactly does that involve, and how different is it from writing novels and stories? Are there any similarities?

I write all kinds of word and logic puzzles mostly for Penny Press and Dell Magazines and for my website Paws4Puzzles. These include crosswords, word seeks, anagram puzzles, and quotation puzzles among others. I’m also currently putting together my own book of logic problems, Paws4Logic, which hopefully will be released early in 2015.
With the logic problems there is definitely a crossover between writing puzzles and writing fiction. Each puzzle is a story, albeit a short one, and I have a lot of fun coming up with creative scenarios, names, and settings. This is something I enjoy a lot when I write fiction too.

Do you find it challenging to switch between these different projects and genres?

Sometimes yes, but I try to balance it out, doing a little writing and a little puzzle work each day.

Do you have any tidbits or anecdotes you’d like to share about your books, or your writing life?

I love the weird and wonderful characters that sometimes pop, seemingly out of nowhere, onto my page. Sometimes I’ll mention someone in passing, like the clown, The Great Bobbert, who Joey (the animagus kangaroo) follows around in the first book of P.A.W.S. Low and behold that clown comes back in Argentum, and wait a second, he has a pet weasel called Popgoes – where did that come from?

Who has inspired you as an author?

My greatest inspiration is probably JK Rowling. My favorite Harry Potter is book 3, The Prisoner of Azkaban. It is in this book that we are introduced to the idea of animagi. I was fascinated by this idea, but wanted to delve deeper. How does it feel to turn into an animal? What was the process like learning to be an animagus? How would a magician choose which animal they were, or was that animal always part of them? All these questions inspired me to create P.A.W.S.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently writing book 3 in the P.A.W.S. series, which hopefully will be released sometime in 2015. I also have my logic project, Paws4Logic, which I’m working on together with my son, Joey. Plus I have stories coming out in several more anthologies in the next few months and will be working on part 2 of our horror anthology, Sins of the Future, to be released in October 2015.

You can find out more about the author and her books at these sites:

Thursday, 20 November 2014

An Interview With Richard Patterson

Today I have an interview with author Richard Patterson, who stops by to talk books and Jack the Ripper...

Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

I like to see myself as a writer though I have many years experience teaching English.  Have held other jobs for printing firms, bank, army reserves, and manager of a tabletop game venue. I gained my teaching degree in Melbourne and I have lived in the United Kingdom, where I was able to research my book. My childhood was surrounded by death. Before the age of 9 I had been dead three times. Once, in 1973, when I was aged three, I was overcome by smoke in a house fire. My rescuer dragged me from my burning family home just before the roof collapsed and a volunteer surf lifeguard who had come to watch the fire gave 1st aid. The lifeguard found no heartbeat before he began resuscitation. The second time, I was a five-year-old pedestrian hit and run victim. The paramedics found me lying on the road with severe multiple injuries and no heartbeat having apparently bled to death. The 3rd time was exactly like the second but this time I was eight years old. My horror novel allowed me to write freely on the topic of Thompson as a Ripper suspect, which I was not able to do in an earlier non-fiction work of mine.

Can you tell us about your latest book, Francis Thompson and the Ripper Paradox?

My book merges two depictions of evil, the Ripper and the Antichrist. It uses both to tell the story of the life of an historical figure, the English poet Francis Thompson. My book is prefaced with a ghost story about the crimes and this character’s motive. The bulk of the book explores, in biography, the magnitude and effects, of his apocalyptical scheme. The novel draws on copious factual material gathered from around the world research to explain how his rise began as the perpetrator of the cluster of 5 terrible murders of 1888 in London’s East End. This novel tells that Thompson sought to raise the dead and then stay alive after his own passing by hiding behind history and in our minds.

Why did you decide to write in the horror genre, and specifically the Jack the Ripper subset of that genre?

At the height of the Ripper murders, when the bloodlust of the fiend knew no bounds, the mutilations of these poor women, appalled the populace of London. The press was for once lost for words. They could only describe this unknown individual in terms of the works of horror literature like De Quincy and Edgar Allen Poe. In 1888, when the murders happened the Victorians were hugely interested in spiritualism and the occult. The play of Jekyll and Hyde was showing in London’s West End and people were taken in by the images of ghosts taken with the still new technology of the camera. Nowadays with new horrors like Ebola, terrorism, climate change and assorted conspiracy theories, I felt that people might respond to a supernatural crime story.

Being a bit of an amateur Ripperologist myself, I’m curious as to your opinion on the lasting fascination with Jack the Ripper and that particular historic event. What do you think is the allure that still captures public interest?

I think it was the collision of worlds it caused. The dire poverty of industrialized and a struggling underclass and the pomp and ceremony of the Nuevo-rich and aristocracy. Both classes were united in their fear of this one individual. The crimes created the archetype of the Victorian murderer -The romantic-decadence of the times personified. I believe that contrary to popular belief it is not the mystery surrounds the identity of the criminal that holds the public interest, but more the subconscious- anticipation of what we the world do when we all find out his name.

Your novel mixes in occult and religious aspects to the Ripper story. How did the idea of melding those two facets come about?

It seemed that in the past people were a lot more religious than today. It makes sense to look at the influence of religion over a suspect, it seems natural to take that short step and explore possible religious, and with these horrific crimes, occult aspect. The idea that the murderer may have been a religionist was not knew, having been suggested in letters to the newspapers. Even during the murders in October 1888, people could read “The Curse of Mitre Square” a horror novel on the Ripper in which the antagonist is a specter of an evil monk who stabs a women on the high altar of a medieval church. When I first learned of Thompson, the book’s suspect and face for the devil; I saw that he was a very strictly religious with a belief in the supernatural and demons. I melded these facets because in truth I don’t think they can be seen as separate from the Ripper crimes.

Was there an aspect of writing your novel that you found challenging?

Because I my book is based on an assorted array of non-fiction material, and actual events, deciding what to keep and leave out has been difficult. For example small but interesting detail such as one actual police investigator had one arm because a tiger bit the other off.  I could not work that detail in because it seemed out of place with the scenario I was building. There were many amazing details I had to leave out because trying to hold it all would have taken years further to write. Another challenge was the uniqueness of my premise and my suspect, and keeping to the same style and approach throughout the novel even as it moves further and further into the eerie and bizarre, and modern day.

What type of research did you do for your book?

The book is based on a great deal of research. It entailed reading and taking notes from non-fiction works, including old press reports, police documents, letters, biographies, uncut-volumes, and historical artefacts and documents. It has been resourced from personal access to mostly archival material from places like London’s Guildhall Library, London’s National Gallery, The British Library, The Kew National Archives, (Dear Boss Letter) the New York Public Library, The Victorian State Library, Boston College’s Burns Library's (Thompson’s private notebooks for years, including 1888, and other unpublished documents) I’ve examined the murder sites and have lectured on these murders including as a delegate at the 2005 International Jack the Ripper conference held in Brighton.

Who has inspired you as an author?

I am heavily influenced by science fiction, fantasy stories as a child. Though horror holds a special place for me. I like reading, Poe, Lovecraft, Machen, Shelley, Stoker and Barker, but it was Stephen King who is one of my favourites. When I read his books, during my teens in the 80’s, I remember hearing his voice in my head while I read, well before hearing him in real-life. It was Stephen King’s “IT” that helped shape the initial idea of writing about a great evil. Instead of the small New England town of Derry Main as the backdrop my novel would have the hulking dark and smoky landscape of Victorian London in the year 1888, when all was cloaked in the shadow of the ripper. I liked how King’s “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” a novella gave away that the protagonist escapes prison at the start leaving the reader to wanting to know how he did it. That’s why I sort tell the whole story and give away the ending at the beginning of my book, hoping the reader will ask how the Ripper got away with it.

What’s next for you?

As I wrote this novel, I envisioned two more volumes, on the topic with each volume roughly covering a century. With this plan, my current novel would be part 2, while part 1 examined the 20th century while part 1 covered the 18th.  I have other writing related projects that I can continue and complete, including a book on Australian aboriginal archaeological sites, software that writes stories, and a story-telling tabletop game. I would love to continue to explore the Ripper murders writing more on aspects of history, culture, human desires and literature.

You can find out more about the author and his book at these sites:

Author Website:

Author's Blog:

Facebook group for Francis Thompson and the Ripper Paradox:

YouTube Short Film:



Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Drabble Wednesday: Unruffled Gulls

We’re going to the birds today with a short series I wrote based on photograph of a flock of seagulls (not the one pictured, but one similar).

Unruffled Gulls- Part One

Somewhere on a dock, a flock of gulls gather...

“I dare say, Percy, there is merit to your argument that subverting the individual nature within a group dynamic may stagnate creativity and innovative development.  However, too much individuality could lead to chaos and anarchy.  The good of the group must be considered.”
“A fair point, Nigel old bean, perhaps an equitable balance of the two is more in order.  A cohesion, if you will.”
“I loathe ending this philosophical chat,” Pip interrupted, “but I spy an approaching tourist with a camera.  Time to flap our feathers and pose for pictures.”

Unruffled Gulls- Part Two

Again, the flock of gulls gather...

“Can you believe the nerve of that pelican?  Ordering us from the garbage can as if it was his personal property!   The nerve, I say.  I am quite perturbed about the whole matter!”
“Yes, Nigel, he was terribly rude.  I dare say he would have resorted to fisticuffs, had the rest of the flock not “had our back” as they say.”
“No doubt, Percy, he was most uncouth and course.  I wonder where he came from?  I haven’t spied him about town before today.”
“I believe I heard he originated from the Jersey Shore.”

Unruffled Gulls- Part Three

This time the gulls gather for dinner...

“I say Percy, you have outdone yourself with this lunch repast.  How on earth did you manage to find all this lovely food?   Why there’s grilled fish, fish with a lemon and dill sauce, salmon patties and more.  And enough for all.”
“Why thank you, Nigel, you are too kind.  It was a bit of luck.  I hit an odd gust that turned me about and I ended here at this rather quaint seafood restaurant.  Their dumpster certainly is a smorgasbord of delights.  Tomorrow I heard they’re serving a fish bouillabaisse.”
“How wonderful.”

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Book Spotlight: Sceadu

A book spotlight today, with the YA fantasy novel Sceadu by Prashant Pinge.

Sceadu by Prashant Pinge

All this while, Matilda’s shadow had been growing larger and larger. Suddenly, it lunged out of the ground and swallowed her, like a python does its unsuspecting prey.

Nine year old Matilda ends up with a century old book through a series of strange coincidences. And disappears. Her brother and cousins are forced to suspend their hostilities and pursue her to Sceadu, a land inside the human shadow. Once there, the reluctant visitors find themselves chased by the vicious Hefigans, creatures of Sceadu. However, everything changes with the revelation of an ancient prophecy that foretells the doom of the world they left behind.

With the stakes suddenly raised, the children must now navigate the dangerous terrain, overcome grave challenges, and unlock the secrets of the shadow. But can they do it in time to thwart the plans of the treacherous Hefigans? Or will they succumb to the guile of a ruthless enemy who is equally determined to destroy mankind?

Sceadu is a fast-paced adventure which blurs the boundary between the physical and the psychological, the real and the mythical.

You can find Sceadu on Amazon

Also, from Dec 1st to 21st, the author will be running a Rafflecopter giveaway for Sceadu. The giveaway includes 10 Amazon Gift Cards ($10 each) and 15 e-copies of Sceadu (available in EPUB, MOBI and PDF formats).

Excerpt from Sceadu

The moon had once again found refuge behind the clouds.

“Er ye tere?” croaked a voice out of the velvety darkness.

The man scraped his elbow hard against the rough edge. But the searing pain never reached his lips.

“It’s me…ol’ Marcus.” A pale shadow followed.

“Do you have it?” The words burned in the man’s throat.

The old man stumbled, and a messily wrapped packet fell out of his stubby fingers. The man dived, grabbing at it with both hands. The packet landed with a gentle thud, followed by the dull clank of his cane. “Old fool,” he hissed. “You’ve been drinking. I should send you without a dime.”

“Jest took me a few swigs,” the old man mumbled, swaying like a reed. “To give ol’ Marcus the guts to break in.”

“Quiet,” the man snarled, thrusting his fingers into his trouser pocket. “Take these and be off.” He pushed the bills into the old man’s rough hands.

“Ye promised fifty bucks,” Marcus protested, trying hard to count.

But the man hadn’t heard a word. He simply stood still, staring at the packet that promised to change the course of his destiny.

There was a tap on his shoulder. “But ye promised…”

The man swung around, his cane raised. But his grip tightened and his hand stopped. “It’s more than a hundred,” he said, clamping down his jaw. “Now get out of here.”

Old Marcus walked away, staggering slowly in his drunken stupor.

The man drew in a long breath and kept his cane aside. For a brief instant, his mind wandered off to that gloomy winter evening many years ago, to the discovery he had made in a far away corner of the country. But this wasn’t the time for reminiscing.

The man gently loosened the strings and brought out the contents, an old book. He had the means now. From here on, his path would be one that few humans had trodden through the ages. The brown wrapping slowly drifted to the ground.

The man suddenly jerked his head. But it was only old Marcus, still sauntering towards the street. The man’s shoulders relaxed; he was in control, at least for the time being. There would be challenges ahead, grave ones. The boy had probably complicated things. But he could deal with all that later.

Author bio:

Prashant Pinge was born and brought up in the picturesque neighbourhood of Shivaji Park in the bustling city of Mumbai in India.

A quiet and diligent student throughout his schooling and college years, Prashant proceeded to pursue electrical engineering at Purdue University in the United States. Over the next decade, he accumulated three more degrees, a master of science in management from Lancaster University, a post graduate program in management from Indian School of Business, and a post MBA master in international management from Thunderbird School of Global Management.

Apart from enjoying the company of books, Prashant had always had an imaginative bent of mind. But writing only happened in the fall of 2003, when a remarkably intriguing dream interrupted an uncharacteristically deep spell of slumber, compelling him to stagger to his desk and pen down the idea. That book is still a few years away from being written. Prashant, however, continues to work from his cauldron of creativity and churn out critically acclaimed works of fiction.

In addition to his literary pursuits, Prashant is Managing Partner in his marketing and branding firm, Media Panther. In his spare time, Prashant enjoys collecting old coins, reading fiction, travelling to exotic destinations, watching movies, and listening to music. He recently wrote and produced a short film titled Freedom of Expression. Prashant is also keenly interested in the subjects of psychology, mythology and ancient history.

Prashant lives with his wife and son in Mumbai.

Author web links:

Book website –
Author website -
Sceadu Facebook page -

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Interview With Andrew John Rainnie

Here's part two of the weekend double feature with author Andrew John Rainnie. Today he stops by for a chat about his writing and his fantasy novel, Spirits of Vengeance: The Stone of Spirits.  Enjoy.

Interview With Andrew John Rainnie

Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

I’m a writer and filmmaker from Glasgow, Scotland. I have lots of fingers in lots of pies; I write short and feature films, and occasionally direct them. I also produce music videos and other film projects through my company, Rain Fire Films, and run a website helping people explore Glasgow, I also write for an American gaming website, Warp Zoned.

In short, I’m a workaholic!

Your latest book, Spirits of Vengeance: The Stone of Spirits, is a fantasy novel.  Can you tell us a bit about it, and your corresponding short story collection, Tales of Vengeance?

Spirits of Vengeance: The Stone of Spirits actually started life as a feature length screenplay that I had to write as my final project while studying screenwriting at Bournemouth University. One of my mentors, Rosie Cullen, made me realize two things; firstly, that the story was too big for a screenplay, and two, the world made no sense. It was a popcorn movie inspired by Lord of the Rings and other magical adventure films like Willow, Red Sonja, Conan.

So I took the core idea, and started from the ground up, sculpting a believable world for my characters to inhabit. The main characters changed drastically after that, as I tried to make it more than a simple action adventure. Originally, Kaedin was the main character, but a couple of drafts later led me to realize that Kamina, his younger sister, would make a better hero, because she did not want to be one. It made the entire book more dramatic and character-driven by having the focus on her journey.

Tales of Vengeance came about as a side project; there were characters and situations who have great backstories, but for one reason or another were removed from the final book, more often because they simple diverted from the story, so I thought it would be great to gather them in a short story collection, as a companion piece, or for those who were unsure of buying Spirits, they can try Tales first, as its free.

You’re an experienced world traveler, so how do you think your journeys influenced your new book?

It’s funny because I was writing Spirits of Vengeance during my year of in 2011, travelling around the world. I ended up publishing my travel blogs as an eBook, My Right Leg Is Tastier Than My Left. There are several points in that were the landscape or scenery inspired me, or I changed names or places after visiting places. Bolivia was a big inspiration, as I had finished the first draft, but Bolivia’s landscape is so diverse and awe-inspiring that I went back and changed key points.

But I guess there are parallels to myself and Kamina; we were both on a journey of self-discovery, meeting new people, seeing wild, exotic places. We both returned changed, even matured.

Your previous book was non-fiction. Why did you decide to write a novel in the fantasy genre?

The previous book came about because I was keeping a journal on the round the world adventure, and when I returned home I had 400 pages, so I thought I should do something with them. But I have always been a fiction writer, be it short stories, novels, or films. I love the fantasy genre; I read a lot of Terry Pratchett, Phillip Pullman, Joe Abercrombie, and I grew up with the classics like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Writing epic fantasy allows you to create brand new worlds, share ideas that are similar to those on Earth, yet allow you, as a writer, to keep it separate, and new. Spirits deals a lot with race, sex, and religion, but in another place with different societies, different ideals.

Did anything surprise you about the process of writing your novel?

The sheer length of time. I’ve been working on Spirits for near enough a decade now, but during that time I have had many, many other jobs, went travelling, made a few short films, and bought a house! I’m amazed at writers who can crack out a book every 18 months. I’m hoping the sequel to Stone of Spirits only takes a couple of years.

Can you tell us about your writing process?  Do you have a certain writing routine?

I try and write when I can. If I have an idea I’ll scribble it down or email myself, and then patch them together to make a cohesive story. I’m one of these people who can’t really turn off the creative part of their brain; I’ll be constantly mulling over story ideas until they gradually grow and grow and then blossom into something I feel make a great story. Then it’s just a case of expanding on storylines and treatments until you have the groundwork for something you want to invest years of your life in.

Time management is key though. I find I’m dividing my time between writing books and writing films, so I’ll set one evening as scripts, one as books. I was always advised to write at least three hours a day, which is a struggle, but not unachievable.

What is your greatest challenge as a writer?

Not sucking.

You also work as a filmmaker and screenwriter. How does that creative process differ from writing a novel?

In many ways writing a book is like writing a screenplay, you start with an idea, and it grows as you add to it, shaping characters, story, and plot. However, once you actually get to the meat of sitting down and writing it, you find you have a lot more freedom with a book, which can be both a good and a bad thing. Screenplays are rather restrictive; they are a lot of white space, which is filled by actors, directors, production designers, special effects artists. Writing a film is essentially a foundation for other creatives to build upon, whereas a book is yours and yours alone.

Making a film is just a different kettle of fish entirely. It’s more about the logistics of organizing a cast and crew, and inspiring them all with your vision for a project, and guiding them towards it. You don’t sleep much when making a film.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently writing a sports drama feature film for a director working in India, and I have a trio of short films, collectively titled The Illuminant Midnight Project, that I hope to launch a crowd funding campaign for in early 2015, and film them next summer. 

And at some point, I’ll get back to the second Spirits of Vengeance book, The Assassin of Araneque!

You can find  Spirits of Vengeance: The Stone of Spirits at:

Author Bio:

Andrew John Rainnie is a Scottish novelist, screenwriter, and filmmaker. He has an MA. Joint Honours in English Literature and Film & TV Studies from the University of Glasgow, and an MA/PGDip in Screenwriting from Bournemouth University. He has written and directed a number of short films, which have shown at festivals around the globe. His last, The Collector, based on a short story by Jonathan Lethem, was shown at the London East End Film Festival, the London Short Film Festival, and Aesthetica Film Festival in York.
After working as a media analyst and script reader in London for six years, Andrew quit the rat race and embarked on an epic around the world adventure, details of which were published in a compendium of his travel blogs, titled My Right Leg Is Tastier Than My Left. During that journey, he finished writing a passion project, his first fantasy novel, Spirits of Vengeance: The Stone of Spirits.